A Monthly Newsletter of the Montana Legislative Branch
Volume XVI, No. 10
IN THIS ISSUE
LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL 1
NCSL AND CSG MEETINGS 2
ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY COUNCIL 2
WATER POLICY COMMITTEE 2
LEGISLATIVE FINANCE COMMITTEE 3
ENERGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE .. 3
LEGISLATIVE AUDIT COMMITTEE 4
CHILDREN, FAMILIES, HEALTH, AND HUMAN SERVICES
ECONOMIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE 8
EDUCATION AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT 10
STATE ADMINISTRATION AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS
REVENUE AND TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE 10
THE BACK PAGE 13
WHAT'S YOUR CLIMATE DOING? 13
INTERIM CALENDAR 18
Montana Legislative Services Division
Room 110, State Capitol
PO Box 201706
Helena, MT 59620-1706
Phone: (406) 444-3064
Fax: (406) 444-3036
THE INTERIM is a monthly newsletter that
reports on the interim activities of legislative
committees, including the Legislative Council,
the Environmental Quality Council, the Legisla-
tive Finance Committee, the Legislative Audit
Committee, and interim legislative committees
and subcommittees staffed by the Legislative
Services Division. Information about the commit-
tees, including meeting schedules, agendas,
and reports, is found at http://www.leg.mt.gov.
Follow the "Committees" link or the "Interims"
link to the relevant committee. The newsletter is
posted on the legislative branch website on the
first of each month (follow the "Publications"
A Publication of
Council looks at revising legislative rules .. .The Rules subcommittee of the Legislative
Council met on Jan. 28 to work on proposals for revising joint, House, and Senate
rules. The council will consider some specific rule changes at its April meeting. The
Legislative Council met on January 29.
Council selects dates for caucuses, legislator training . ..The council has chosen Nov.
1 9, 20, and 21 , 2008, for caucuses and legislator training. It also plans on providing
training to all legislators with separate programs for new legislators and returning
legislators. The Rules Committee meeting and training for committee presiding
officers are planned for Dec. 15. These dates are, of course, subject to change. The
council also reviewed several versions of the 2009 session calendar and it will
continue to do so this interim.
Delegation of legislative authority . ..Greg Petesch, director of LSD legal services,
discussed the history of and legal issues related to the delegation of legislative
authority to executive branch agencies through the administrative rulemaking
process. Currently, legal staff and interim committees review all proposed
administrative rules. The council concluded that review of existing rules is important
in bill drafting and that legislators need more guidance in the delegation of authority
in bill drafts. Legislation containing specific guidelines makes administrative
rulemaking authority unnecessary. However, legislation cannot always be that
specific because of changing technologies or other considerations; it makes more
sense to give an agency the authority to adopt rules. Staff will be working on bill
drafting guidelines on rulemaking and other informational and training tools on
administrative rulemaking, including additions to the legislator handbook.
Media access to legislative proceedings . ..The Legislative Council had a lively
discussion with a panel of media representatives on open caucuses and media
access to legislative proceedings. Greg Petesch discussed the legal history and
status of open caucuses. Several panelists gave an historical perspective on how
access to the Legislature as the people's branch of government was an important
consideration for members of the 1 972 Constitutional Convention.
The discussion included media access to the floor sessions and committee hearing
rooms. Council members expressed their frustrations with logistics, especially in the
Senate chamber. The council and media representatives agreed on the importance
of preserving existing access, and council members assured those in attendance that
there was no desire to restrict access of the media or the public. However, with
expanding media pools and forms of communication, the council noted that media
access should be balanced with maintaining decorum in the House and Senate
chambers and in committee hearing rooms.
Media representatives emphasized the value they place on their access to floor
sessions and suggested some possible solutions to alleviate legislators' concerns,
including media training and increased access to additional sound ports or media
areas in the Senate gallery. Staff will follow up on the proposals for the council's
TVMT coverage, interim committee ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY COUNCIL
guidelines . ..Stephen IVIaly, Helena Civic Television,
discussed plans to expand television coverage of legislative
proceedings through TVMT. Council staff provided a memo
on rules and guidelines for interim committees. The council
has sent a letter to presiding and vice presiding officers of
interim committees asking for their help in developing
guidelines for interim committees and planning for the next
interim. Finally, the council postponed until April
consideration of legislator compensation and reimbursement.
Voting system demonstration . ..Plans are underway
to have the new House and Senate voting systems and
displays installed this summer for the 2009 legislative
session. The evaluation committee has invited a vendor to
provide a demonstration in March, and legislators are invited
to attend the demonstration of the proposed voting system
technologies. Legislators may not ask the vendor questions,
but they may provide comments and suggestions to the
evaluation committee and will have ample opportunity to
provide input on the proposed Web interface to the new
systems. Legislators interested in attending the
demonstration should contact Susan Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org or
(406) 444-3066 for the specific date, place, and times.
Council meets in April . ..The Legislative Council will
meet April 1 in Room 102 of the Capitol. Agenda items
include legislator training and caucuses; bill request
deadlines; rules; revisiting the fiscal note study from last
interim; annual and even-year sessions; and establishing
budget initiatives for the 2009 session.
For more information, visit the Legislative Council's
webpage or contact Susan Byorth Fox at email@example.com or
NCSL AND CSG MEETINGS
Applying for NCSL and CSG spring and summer
meetings . ..A limited amount of money was appropriated for
legislators to attend meetings sponsored by the National
Conference of State Legislatures or the Council of State
Governments. Legislators looking for financial assistance to
attend an NCSL or CSG meeting must contact their
legislative leader- Sens. Mike Cooney or Corey Stapleton or
Reps. Scott Sales or John Parker-for approval (preferably
in written form). If approval is granted, then submit a
legislator reimbursement form with appropriate receipts to
the Legislative Services Division c/o Jennifer Simmons. For
forms or more information, contact Susan Byorth Fox at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 444-3064.
Climate change survey draws good
response . ..Armed with survey results and hundreds of public
comments, the Environmental Quality Council continues to
examine climate change.
As part of its interim work, the EQC is reviewing the
54 recommendations included in the "Montana Climate
Change Action Plan: Final Report of the Governor's Climate
Change Advisory Committee." The final report was released
in November 2007.
At a January meeting, the EQC agreed to invite the
public to rank and comment on the 54 recommendations
aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Montana.
The recommendations are broken down into five categories:
Residential, Commercial, Institutional, and Industrial; Energy
Supply; Transportation and Land Use; Agriculture, Forestry,
and Waste Management; and Cross-Cutting Issues.
In order to better understand how the public feels
about the recommendations included in that report, the EQC
conducted a survey. Throughout the month of February, the
public was invited to participate in the survey-and participate
it did. Within the first 24 hours the survey was available
online, 86 surveys were completed. Within the first week,
close to 350 surveys were submitted.
Survey results to be discussed at March
meeting . ..EQC members also participated in the survey
themselves, and an analysis of the results will include an
examination of both responses from the public and
responses from EQC members. That analysis will be
presented to the EQC at a meeting March 1 0-1 1 in Helena.
The Center for Climate Strategies, a nonprofit
organization that worked with the Climate Change Advisory
Committee, as well as a representative from the governor's
office, also will be invited to the EQC meeting.
Conservation easements . ..At its March meeting, the
EQC will continue to work on HJR 57, a study of
conservation easements on trust lands. A summary, that
could serve as a type of brochure for the public, with basic
information about conservation easements, will be presented
to the council.
The EQC meets March 1 0-1 1 in Room 1 02 of the
Capitol. For more information, contact Joe Kolman at
email@example.com or (406) 444-9280 or Sonja Nowakowski at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 444-3078. The agenda and
other materials are posted on the EQC webpage.
WATER POLICY COMMITTEE
Water marketing, other topics slated for March
meeting . ..Though it often seems to flow freely, water is a
property right, and therefore, a commodity.
Property rights are often described as a bundle of
sticks associated witln a parcel of land. However, each stick
has value independent of the bundle. While there are
differences in how different rights may be marketed, a water
right is one of those sticks.
The 2007 Legislature asked the Water Policy Interim
Committee to analyze water marketing and water
reallocation options available in Montana, including leasing
programs and the possibility of establishing a water bank.
Speakers scheduled for the committee's March 1 2-
13 meeting include representatives of agriculture and
conservation as well as a free market advocate.
Water marketing is notanewdiscussion in Montana.
In 1984, the Legislature's Select Committee on Water
Marketing published a voluminous report and several
suggestions for future legislation.
"These recommendations concern a strategy for a
water policy for Montana in an interstate setting," wrote then-
Sen. Jean Turnage, who chaired the panel. "This agenda is
too important and too complex to be addressed by one
interim committee or one legislative session. These issues
significantly affect the future of Montana. The deliberations
around them must be ongoing."
Although those words were written nearly a quarter
century ago, water markets are still in their infancy,
according to Water Strategist, a newsletter that analyzes
water policy, marketing, finance, legislation, and litigation in
17 western states.
"Water assets are not traded westwide; no indicator
can measure overall activity in water markets," the
newsletter said in its April 2006 issue. "The economic value
of water depends upon the reliability of the underlying water
right, quantity, quality, uses and the location and availability
of competing sources of supply."
However, in Montana and other states, competing
demands for water are driving water marketing discussions.
The 2007 Legislature passed House Bill 831 regulating
groundwater appropriations in closed basins. Mitigation
plans required under that statute may contain some aspect
of water marketing.
The March meeting will include a presentation of the
growing communities doctrine, which gives special
consideration to municipal water suppliers within the prior
appropriation system for administering water rights.
The committee also will continue discussing possible
legislation on several topics.
Meeting materials on the Internet . ..The meeting is
March 1 2-1 3 in the state Capitol. An agenda, more meeting
information, and background materials are available on the
committee's webpage. For more information, contact Joe
Kolman, committee staff, at (406) 444-9280 or
LEGISLATIVE FINANCE COMMITTEE
Finance committee meets in March . ..The Legisla-
tive Finance Committee will meet Thursday and Friday,
March 6 and 7, in Room 102 of the Capitol beginning at 1
p.m. on Thursday and at 8 a.m. on Friday. The agenda and
meeting reports are available on the Legislative Fiscal
Division website at http://www.leg.mt.gov/css/fiscal/lfc.asp.
For more information about the committee, contact Clayton
Schenck at email@example.com or (406) 444-2986.
The following topics have been scheduled:
Information technology management update
State leasing policy and Corrections/DPHHS
building plan issues
Update on Montana Historical Society site selection
Proposed statute change regarding authority to
approve state land purchases
Real-ID current status and May deadline
Review of select programs including the Department
of Revenue $14 million block funding and the State
Study of budget and appropriation process
Long-range planning study
State Fund study
Study of LFD products and services
Report on Revenue and Transportation Interim
Committee project of budget growth (graying of
Status reports on LFC interim subcommittees and
Performance measurement discussion
ENERGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
The Energy and Telecommunications Interim
Committee approved draft legislation that eliminates the
pending sunset of the electric Universal Systems Benefits
program and agreed that a two-day meeting in the spring is
needed to close in on the topic of carbon sequestration.
Committee may recommend carbon sequestration
legislation . ..The ETIC met Jan. 24 in Helena and started the
day with an overview of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact
Commission's carbon sequestration model rules and
regulations. Tom Richmond, administrator of the Montana
Board of Oil and Gas Conservation, and Bonnie Lovelace,
bureau chief for the Department of Environmental Ouality
Water Protection Bureau, discussed aspects of existing
Montana law and how they might be reviewed in developing
carbon sequestration legislation. Following the presentation,
ETIC members asked that the committee meet May 1 and 2
to continue discussing recommendations on the subject.
Committee approves draft USB legislation . ..In 1 997
SB 390 established the USB charge for all electric
distribution utilities at 2.4 percent of 1995 electric utility
revenues to begin Jan. 1 , 1999. The electric USB currently
in law expires in December 2009. The committee approved
draft legislation that removes the sunset and adds a
provision requiring the ETIC to review the USB program
Wind power integration on agenda . ..During the
January meeting, a panel offered an overview of wind power
integration in Montana and wind power topics specific to
individual utilities. Seven speakers gave their perspectives
on the costs and benefits of wind power development.
Several PowerPoint presentations covering related topics
ranging from generation interconnection to the importance of
regulating electrical reserves were shown to the committee.
These PowerPoint presentations are available on the ETIC
State agency reports . ..Montana's Public Service
Commission and the Department of Commerce Energy
Infrastructure and Promotions Division also updated the
committee on recent activities. The EIPD provided
information on its work related to transmission, geothermal
development, coal-to-liquids projects, and wind generation.
The PSC is developing rules to implement portions of HB 25,
the "Electric Utility Industry Generation Reintegration Act"
approved by the 2007 Legislature. The proposed rules are
available for review and a public hearing will be held on
March 5 at the PSC offices.
May meeting scheduled . ..The ETIC meets again
May 1 and 2 in Helena. Please note that these dates are
differentthan previously posted. Information on the ETIC and
its studies can be found on the committee's webpage. For
more information contact Sonja Nowakowski at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 444-3078.
LEGISLATIVE AUDIT COMMITTEE
The Legislative Audit Committee met Jan. 23 in
Helena. The complete audit reports are available at
Financial Compliance Audits
Statewide Audit (07-01) . ..This audit report
documents the results of the Legislative Audit Division's
(LAD) annual financial audit of the state of Montana's Basic
Financial Statements and the Schedule of Expenditures of
Federal Awards of the state of Montana for the fiscal year
ended June 30, 2007. The basic financial statements were
prepared by the Administrative Financial Services Division of
the Department of Administration. The Schedule of
Expenditures of Federal Awards was prepared by the
Governor's Office of Budget and Program Planning. The
audit was performed to express an opinion on the state's
basic financial statements and the related opinion on the
Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards.
Auditing standards require the auditor to
communicate control deficiencies over financial reporting
identified based on an auditofbasic financial statements and
considered to be significant or material. A significant
deficiency affects management's ability to accurately process
transactions. A material weakness is one or more significant
deficiencies that adversely affect management's ability to
fairly present its financial statements. The table below
outlines the significant deficiencies and material weakness
identified during this audit.
Summary of Control Deficiencies
Infrastructure Asset Balances
Untimely Cash Reconciliations
Federal Single Audit (07-02) . ..This audit report
documents the results of the Single Audit of the state of
Montana for the two fiscal years ended June 30, 2007. The
report contains the unqualified independent auditor's reports
on the state of Montana's basic financial statements for the
fiscal years ended June 30, 2007, and June 30, 2006, and
the related schedulesofexpendituresof federal awards. The
report also contains reports on the state of Montana's
internal controls and compliance with federal and state laws
and regulations, a schedule of findings and questioned costs,
a corrective action plan, and a summary schedule of prior
Board of Investments (07-04) . ..This audit report
documents the results of the annual audit of the Board of
Investments in compliance with Article VIII, section 13, of the
Montana Constitution, and 17-6-321 , MCA. The objectives of
the financial audit included determining whether the board's
financial statements presented fairly its financial position and
results of operations at and for the period ending
June 30, 2007, and the board's compliance with laws and
regulations that have a direct and material impact on the
financial statements. This report does not contain any
recommendations to the board.
The board chose to presentconsolidated investment
pool financial statements forfiscal years 2006-07 ratherthan
the separate pool statements as presented in previous years.
This change in presentation provides the financial user a
comprehensive view of all pooled investments. This report
contains unqualified Independent Auditor's Reports for each
of the following three sets of financial statements of the
Board of Investments: Consolidated Investment Pool
(consisting of Retirement Funds Bond Pool, Trust Funds
Bond Pool, Short Term Investment Pool, Montana Domestic
Equity Pool, Montana International Equity Pool, Montana
Private Equity Pool and IVIontana Real Estate Investment
Pool), All Other Funds, and the Enterprise Fund.
Public Employees' Retirement Board (07-08) . ..This
audit report documents the results of the annual financial
audit of the Public Employees' Retirement Board, for the
fiscal year ending June 30, 2007. The objective of the
financial audit was to determine if the Pension Trust Funds'
Statements of Fiduciary Net Asset as of June 30, 2007, and
the Statement of Changes in Fiduciary Net Assets for the
year then ended are fairly presented. This objective included
determining the system's compliance with state laws and
regulations that are direct and material to the financial
statements and the implementation status of two prior audit
recommendations. An unqualified opinion was issued on the
system's financial statements for the fiscal year ended June
30, 2007. This audit report does not include any
recommendations to the board.
The previous financial-compliance report for the two
fiscal years ending June 30, 2006, contained
recommendations related to the actuarial soundness of three
defined benefit retirement systems and reconciliation
controls over external investments. At June 30, 2007, an
actuarial valuation of the systems reported the amortization
periods for all eight defined benefit systems administered by
the board were less than the 30-year maximum amortization
The change in the funding status of the three
systems that were not actuarially sound at June 30, 2006,
came about through a combination of changes enacted by
the 2007 Legislature and higher than expected investment
returns in fiscal year 2007.
University of Montana (07-10) . ..This audit report
documents the results of the annual financial audit of the
University of Montana's consolidated financial statements for
the fiscal years ended June 30, 2007. The objective of the
auditwas to determine ifthe university's financial statements
present fairly its financial position, changes in financial
position, and cash flows as of June 30, 2007, and for the
fiscal year then end. This objective included determining the
university's compliance with laws and regulations having a
direct and material impact on the financial statements. An
unqualified opinion was issued on the university's
consolidated financial statements, which means the reader
can rely on the presented information. This report does not
contain any recommendations to the university.
Montana State University (07-1 1 ) ...This audit report
documents the results of the annual financial audit of
Montana State University's consolidated financial statements
for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2007. The university
requested this audit to provide timely audited financial
statements to interested parties. The objective of the audit
was to determine if the university's financial statements
present fairly its financial position, changes in financial
position, and its cash flows as of, and for the fiscal year
ended, June 30, 2007. This objective included determining
the university's compliance with laws and regulations having
a direct and material impact on the financial statements. An
unqualified opinion was issued on the university's
consolidated financial statements, which means the reader
can rely on the presented information. This report does not
contain any recommendations to the university.
Montana Guaranteed Student Loan Program (07-
06).. .This audit report documents the results of the fiscal
year 2006-07 financial audit of the Office of the
Commissioner of Higher Education's Montana Guaranteed
Student Loan Program (MGSLP) Federal Special Revenue
Fund. An unqualified opinion was issued on the MGSLP
financial statements, which means the reader can rely on the
presented information. The report contains no
recommendations to MGSLP.
Office of Public Instruction (07-1 9) . ..This financial-
compliance audit report contains the results of the audit of
the Office of Public Instruction for the two fiscal years ended
June 30, 2007. An unqualified opinion was issued on the
financial schedules of OPI for the two fiscal years ended
June 30, 2007. The reader may rely on the financial
information presented in the financial schedules and the
supporting data on the state's accounting system.
Montana State Fund (07-05) . ..This financial audit
report documents the results of the audit of the Montana
Sate Fund New Fund (MSF) and the Old Fund for the fiscal
year ended June 30, 2007. Unqualified opinions were issued
on the statements for MSF and the State of Montana-Old
Fund contained in this audit report. This report contains one
recommendation to MSF related to improving internal
controls for financial reporting.
Information System Audits
State Web Server Security Audit (08DP-02) ...The
Department of Administration is responsible for state network
enterprise policy-making, including state web servers. The
state's web servers are vital in providing access to state-
provided programs and services as well as non-public
agency applications and data. Without proper controls,
unauthorized access to any data for any services offered
through state web servers could be allowed.
The Legislative Audit Division, Information Systems
audit team, performed an audit to evaluate state controls in
place to mitigate unauthorized web server activity. The report
contains two multi-part recommendations for the Department
of Administration to define state web server responsibilities
in policy: notify agencies of those responsibilities, comply
with state enterprise policy to check state web servers before
the servers become available to the public, and to scan for
unauthorized web servers.
Statewide Accounting, Budgeting, and Human Resource
System, SABHRS (08DP-03) ...TIie Statewide Accounting,
Budgeting and Human Resource System (SABHRS) is an
enterprise computer application implemented by the state of
Montana to assist state agencies and the Montana University
System to record the disposition, use, and receipt of public
money and property in accordance with state law (section
1 7-1 -1 02, MCA). SABHRS also assists in the administration
of human resource (HR) information, including the
generationof a bi-weekly payroll. SABHRS Services Bureau
(SSB) at the Department of Administration (DOA) is
responsible for the general maintenance, operation, and
security of SABHRS.
Information Systems auditors addressed general
security controls in place to ensure the security of business
processes. The report focuses on general controls;
specifically, identifying areas where DOA can improve
controls over user access to the SABHRS application. Two
recommendations for development and implementation of
review procedures to ensure conflicting access roles are
segregated and SSB programmers do not have access to
modify programming code and database tables in the
State Grain Laboratory Operations and Future
Viability, Department of Agriculture (07P-10) ...The
Legislative Audit Division conducted a performance audit of
the State Grain Laboratory (SGL) Operations. The
recommendations address the need for an additional or
alternative funding source if SGL is to be viable in the future.
To address improvements in SGL's efficiency and
effectiveness, the audit recommends the Department of
Agriculture implementcomprehensive managementcontrols
at SGL. The audit also recommended the department
increase enforcement of section 80-4-711, MCA. By
obtaining a stable funding source, implementing
management controls, and enforcing statutory provisions,
improvements could be made in SGL's operations.
A summary of the findings is available on the
Legislative Audit Division's webpage at www.leg.mt.gov. In
the left hand column, click on "Audit" and in the drop-down
box click on "Audit Reports". The summary is listed under
the January 2008 audits (07P-1 0).
Dawson Community College (07C-09) ...This
financial-compliance audit report contains the results of the
audit of Dawson Community College for the fiscal year
ended June 30, 2007. The audit was conducted by Denning,
Downey & Associates, under contract between the firm and
the Legislative Audit Division. The report contains an
unqualified opinion on the financial statements on the
financial statements contained in the report. This means the
reader may rely on the financial information presented.
CHILDREN, FAMILIES, HEALTH, AND HUMAN
Legislative audit identifies gaps in EMS
services . ..Emergency medical services (EMS) providers in
Montana responded to more than 72,000 calls in 2006, with
the average time required to transport a patient from the
scene to the hospital door ranging from about nine minutes
for urban EMS providers to more than 28 minutes for rural
responders. More than half of the calls resulted from medical
emergencies, while only 16% stemmed from motor vehicle
Those were among the highlights of a presentation
by the Legislative Audit Division, which is in the midst of a
performance audit of EMS services. The audit dovetails with
the committee's SJR 5 study of the challenges facing
Montana's EMS system.
At the January meeting of the Children, Families,
Health, Human Services Committee, Misty Wallace of the
Audit Division gave committee members a thorough
overview of what the audit has found to date.
She noted that while Montana has more than 4,600
licensed emergency medical technicians, only 57 percent are
estimated to be actually practicing EMS care at the time.
Others are maintaining their licenses, but are either not
currently working or volunteering or are not available during
peak EMS traffic hours The audit information also showed
that around-the-clock advanced care is available primarily in
Montana's more urban areas. Ninety-five percent of
Montana's urban population is within 30 miles of an
Advanced Life Support unit that operates 24 hours a day,
seven days a week, and 93 percent of the urban population
is within 10 miles of such an EMS unit. However, just 55
percent of the state's rural residents have a similar unit within
30 miles of their home, while only 27 percent have one within
John Ungaretti of Montana Healthcare Billing, a
company that handles billing for a number of both paid and
volunteer EMS units, described the difficulties that EMS
providers face in receiving payment for services, particularly
for services to people insured through government programs.
Medicare and Medicaid reimburse only a certain percentage
of the charges, while the state's Children's Health Insurance
Program, or CHIP, doesn't cover ambulance costs at all.
Nels Sanddal, who heads up the Critical Illness and
Trauma Foundation in Bozeman, told the committee that
Montana's EMS system is based "largely on good will,"
operated by volunteers who are committed to serving their
communities. He predicted, however, that without significant
changes, volunteer EMS systems will be gone in 10 years
becauseofthechanging demographics of rural Montana. He
suggested that the state should support the "costs of
readiness," which include the equipment that local providers
must purchase and the costs of keeping volunteers trained.
Many states have a grant program for local EMS agencies,
he noted, as well as tax incentives, retirement programs, and
formal recruitment and retention efforts for volunteers.
SJR 1 5 subcommittee continues health care system
review . ..The subcommittee appointed to seek resolution of
conflict-of-interest concerns that hospitals have with health
care providers who have investments in separate, perhaps
competing facilities heard from stakeholders at a Jan. 24
meeting and reviewed a bill draft at a Feb. 1 1 meeting. At
both meetings, physicians and other health care providers
expressed their fears that hospitals could freeze them out of
their practices by economically discriminating against them
if they had dual work places, particularly if they had an
economic interest in such for-profit facilities as ambulatory
surgery centers or imaging centers. Nonprofit community
hospital administrators noted that conflicts of interest can
impact revenues by sending healthier and better insured
patients to the for-profit facilities and sending patients
needing more care to be treated at a hospital.
The subcommittee-made up of Sen. Dan Weinberg
and Rep. Ernie Dutton-is reviewing a bill draft (LC0038) to
resolve both the conflict-of-interest and the economic
The subcommittee will meet again on March 1 7 to
discuss the proposed bill draft and to discuss a related study
proposal to determine whether to continue a moratorium on
specialty hospitals, allow the specialty hospitals but with
more restrictions on their licensing, or ban specialty
Rep. Edith Clark, presiding officer of the Children,
Families, Health, and Human Services Committee, has
asked that the subcommittee provide recommendations to
the full committee on March 1 8.
Also on March 18, the full committee will discuss
whether to define in state law the community benefits that
nonprofit community hospitals provide, partially in exchange
for the income and property tax exemptions they receive.
New Internal Revenue Service regulations require more
definitive listing of community benefits under IRS Form
990H. Most Montana hospitals use guidelines from the
Catholic Hospital Association and VHA Inc. that spell out
acceptable offsets, such as uncompensated care, including
the difference between Medicaid reimbursements and
The full committee also will consider how to proceed
with making hospital and insurance pricing more readily
available and understandable to the public and with
implementing a statewide electronic medical record system.
Other prospective SJR 1 5 topics include a discussion of end-
of-life alternative care, such as hospice.
For more information, visit the SJR 15 area of the
committee's website, under Assigned Studies, or contact
SJR 15 staffer Pat Murdo at (406) 444-3594 or
Mental health study contract awarded . ...The
committee awarded a contract for a mental health study to
DMA Health Strategies, a Massachusetts-based firm that
has worked with a number of states on their mental health
DMA was one of seven companies that submitted
proposals for conducting a three-pronged study. The tasks,
and DMA's plans for completing them, are:
Conduct a needs assessment and resource
mapping of Montana 's publicly funded mental health
services to identify any gaps in services or in the
provider community. DMA will collect and analyze
data compiled by various state agencies to
determine who is being served in the publicly funded
mental health system and also will contact
stakeholders through interviews, focus groups, and
surveys to identify services that may be needed but
currently are not provided.
Inventory the federal, state, and local funds currently
being spent on publicly funded mental health
services and identify additional resources that may
be available. As part of this task, DMA will evaluate
the rules associated with each funding source and
the legislative, regulatory, and other challenges to
obtaining or re-directing the funds.
I dentify ways in which Montana 's existing publicly
funded mental health services could be better
integrated or coordinated. DMA will use the results
of its interviews and other work to propose ways to
better integrate existing services. It also will review
systems in other states to identify elements that may
be used for a model system in Montana.
DMA officials will attend the committee's March 1 7-
18 meeting to discuss the work plan for the study in more
Drafting of corrective legislation requested . ...The
committee requested the drafting of three bills to correct
inconsistences in existing law:
LC 41 would remove an incorrect reference to
prescription drug laws in 53-32-205, MCA.
LC 42 would repeal the termination date established
in previous sessions for the so-called "hospital bed
tax," or the fee assessed for each day a person is in
the hospital. The 2007 Legislature approved the
extension of the fee beyond its June 30, 2009,
sunset date by passing SB 525, but amendments
added to the bill did not properly remove the
termination date set in prior session law.
LC 43 would revise 20-5-503, MCA, to clarify that
the affidavit that allows a caretaker relative to enroll
a child in school can be valid through the end of the
The draft legislation is available on the committee's
webpage and will be subject to public comment at the
committee's March 17-18 meeting. The committee may
approve the bill drafts or request further revisions, based on
Montana State Hospital concerns . ..Joyce DeCunzo,
administrator of the Departmentof Public Health and Human
Services Addictive and Mental Disorders Division, told the
committee that the number of patients at the Montana State
Hospital continues to exceed the number for which it is
licensed. The facility is licensed for 1 89 patients, but is over
that amount by approximately 20 to 30 people on any given
DeCunzo said the agency is looking at what it might
be able to do to develop more intensive services at the
community level as a way to reduce the population at the
Department of Public Health and Human Services
updates . ..DPHHS Director Joan Miles and Deputy Director
John Chappuis brought committee members up to speed on
new developments within the department, including:
Increases in enrollment for the Children's Health
Insurance Program, or CHIP. The 2007 Legislature
increased the income eligibility level forthe program
from 150 percent to 175 percent of the federal
poverty level. That increase, along with additional
outreach efforts, had brought 6,219 additional
children into the program by mid-January.
New staff members for the Child and Family
Services Division. The 2007 Legislature approved
hiring 15 new caseworkers for the division. Ten of
those positions have been filled, while the remaining
5 will be filled in the next fiscal year.
The issuance of a request for proposals for a new
community health center, to provide health care
primarily to uninsured and underinsured Montanans.
The proposals were due at the end of February, and
a contract should be awarded by May 1 .
Decreases in the number of Montanans served by
the Medicaid program. About 78,000 people are
served by the program right now, compared with
more than 82,000 in January 2006. However,
Chappuis cautioned that the numbers could
increase if the state's economy takes a downturn.
Stay tuned . ...The committee will meet March 1 7-1 8
in Room 137 of the Capitol, beginning at 8 a.m. on March 17
with a meeting of the SJR 15 subcommittee. The agenda
and other materials will be posted on the committee's
webpage as they become available. Please contact Sue
O'Connell at (406) 444-3597 or email@example.com for more
information about committee activities.
ECONOMIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
The Economic Affairs Interim Committee met on
Feb. 7 in Great Falls as part of its continuing outreach to
local communities. Meeting topics included value-added
agriculture and workers' compensation. The meeting
showcased changes on the MSU Great Falls campus, as the
EAIC was the first group to meet in the newly renovated
SJR 13 study meets the Golden Triangle . ..Panelists
on value added agriculture echoed concerns raised earlier in
Miles City, but with special emphasis on grains in the Golden
Triangle. The panel demonstrated that processing Montana's
agricultural products in-state can bring economic gain,
whether the operation is small, medium, or large. David
Tweet of Anheuser-Busch came equipped with numbers on
the large side, saying that in 2006 nearly 70 percent of barley
grown in Montana was used for malt. Anheuser-Busch has
contracted with well over a thousand barley growers. These
contracts have an impact nationally because Montana-grown
barley is used in one of every five bottles of Anheuser-Busch
beer sold in the U.S. Committee members were presented
with a sampling of this quality crop (although it had not, as
yet, added value through fermentation). Mark Black, of
International Malting in Great Falls, represented medium-
sized operators and explained their relationship with not only
Anheuser-Busch, but also with other national and
international brewers, distillers, and food companies.
David Oien from Timeless Seeds, a smaller grower
and marketer of flax, lentil, and other seeds, discussed his
firm's growth over the past 20 years and warned that
Montana plains communities need help to maintain or revive
Randy Gilbertson of Pasta Montana said that other
states, like North Dakota and Minnesota, have nearby
suppliers that provide food processors with cardboard boxes,
pallets, or other supplies necessary for getting their products
to market. Stating that "industry breeds industry", Gilbertson
recommended more resource support for farm-to-market
production. Sam Schmidt of Montana Milling said that the
supply of organic grain is not keeping up with demand,
noting that organic grains make up less than 1 percent of
Montana's farm acreage. He suggested that more
information is needed to help interested farmers make the
transition to growing organic grains.
The presenters recommended that programs at
Montana's colleges of technology could be developed to train
people to mill machines or do production or maintenance
engineering. They also discussed concerns about shipping
costs out of Montana and the lack of small-unit shipping
At the next meeting the committee will hear more
about Montana's Growth through Agriculture grants, options
for marketing, and work force training options. Reps. Bill
Thomas and Mike Milburn said they would work with the
presenters at the Great Falls meeting to follow up on their
suggestions for possible legislation.
Workers' compensation . ..The afternoon presentation
on workers' compensation demonstrated the continued
interest in this topic among several legislative committees.
The EAIC has two liaisons to the Montana State Fund
appointed by Rep. Scott Mendenhall. Reps. Mike Milburn
and Bill Thomas are attending State Fund meetings and
reporting back to the full committee.
Jerry Keck, division administrator with the
Employment Relations Division at the Department of Labor,
presented data showing that the injury rate in Montana is 57
percent higher than the national average, and return to work
time is 67 percent longer. Since state agencies make up
nearly one-third of State Fund's clients, committee members
asked how state agencies were faring on these two areas.
Connie Welsh, who oversees state workers' comp claims in
the Department of Administration, said that the numbers in
state government were, unfortunately, no better than small
operators around the state.
Welsh unveiled a new initiative at the state level by
introducing Lance Zanto who has been brought in to focus
on safety and ensuring employees are able to return to work
and get back to healthy and productive lives. Zanto said the
effort is to let employees know they are needed back at
work. He said occupational health studies show that being at
home and idle can be counterproductive to healing. He told
the committee that by going back to work, even in a limited
capacity, people are able to keep the personal pride of daily
achievement, have social interactions, and maintain the
economic situation for their family, all of which are important
to the mental component of recovering from an injury.
Committee members wanted to know what this
meant in "real terms," and were given the answer through
the recent tragic bus accident involving many Department of
Corrections personnel. Zanto, acting as a case manager,
secured positions in other state agencies for employees that
were well enough to return to work, thus treating state
government as one entity. "Having someone at home any
longer than is necessary because we don't make an effort is
a lose-lose situation. Getting people back in the game is
good for the employee, good for the employer, and good for
the public trust," Zanto said.
Lanny Hubbard, president and CEO of the Montana
State Fund, talked about State Fund operations. He said the
organizational structure and operations of MSF are akin to a
private insurance carrier in order to meet businesses' needs.
Hubbard explained how rates are set and how rates set by
MSF differ in certain areas from private insurance
companies. He also gave an update on the Old Fund.
Looking into the future, Hubbard said the greatest area of
concern isthe volatility of court decisions and the impact this
can have on claim benefits.
HJR 48 subcommittee . ..At its Feb. 6 meeting, the
subcommittee studying health insurance reforms to expand
coverage of the uninsured in Montana heard from an
attorney involved with the Massachusetts health care
reforms and a health care policy analyst for the Heritage
Attorney Rick Szczebak, who helped develop a
Section 125 plan that authorizes pre-tax deductions for
contributions toward employee health insurance under the
Massachusetts Commonwealth Connector, reviewed the
federal requirements for a Section 1 25 plan. He said that all
participants in the plan must be employees, which means
that the self-employed or an owner of an S corporation are
not allowed to participate.
Ed Haislmaier, of the Heritage Foundation,
discussed what states can do to implement health insurance
reforms. He noted that a perfect model does not exist. For
states interested in implementing the equivalent of Section
125 options, the choices range from setting up a
bureaucracy to handle the regulatory burden to using
electronic systems and payroll withholding to provide
insurance through the Internet. He said one benefit of the
Massachusetts Insurance Connector is that it allows people
who go in and out of jobs to buy and retain insurance
coverage regardless of whether they are employed or
State Auditor John Morrison discussed the children's
health initiative that has been submitted to the secretary of
state. The Healthy Montana Kids Plan Act, which has not yet
been authorized for signature gathering to be placed on the
ballot, would seek to enroll as many as 30,000 Montana
children whose parents earn under 250 percent of the
federal poverty level. Coverage would be through Medicaid,
theChildren's Health Insurance Program, or payment toward
their parent's health insurance plan.
Expanding public health programs . ..The HJR 48
subcommittee also reviewed options to expand public health
programs like Medicaid, Insure Montana, and the Children's
Health Insurance Program. John Chappuis, deputy director
of the Department of Public Health and Human Services,
reviewed waivers that Montana has used under Medicaid to
expand coverage of eligible populations, especially to reduce
the waiting lists for existing programs. He suggested that
eligibility could be expanded by increasing the percentage
above the poverty level. For example, in the 2007 session,
the Legislature expanded eligibility for CHIP to 175 percent
of the federal poverty level. Most states are at 200 percent of
the federal poverty level. Another option would be to
maintain seriously emotionally disturbed children on
Medicaid until they reach the age of 21 . Currently coverage
ends at age 18.
The HJR 48 subcommittee has not yet decided
whether to move the study to the full Economic Affairs
Committee or have one more meeting to consider options to
decrease the number of uninsured Montanans. The next
meeting of the Economic Affairs Committee is in May. More
specifics will be available in the April issue of the interim
For more information about the Economic Affairs
Committee contact Andrew Geiger, committee staff, at (406)
444-5367 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDUCATION AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Two subcommittees (K-12 and PEPB
subcommittees) of the Education and Local Government
Interim Committee will meet on Thursday, March 13, and the
full committee will meet on March 1 4.
K-1 2 Subcommittee . ..The K-1 2 Subcommittee meets
Thursday, March 1 3. Following a brief overview of the Feb.
5 court filing by the Montana Quality Education Coalition, the
subcommittee will review funding adjustments made in
neighboring states for their small, remote, or shrinking school
districts. The subcommittee will consider the financial impact
if these adjustments were implemented in Montana. Staff of
the Revenue and Transportation Committee will report on
that committee's SJR 31 study of taxation and school
funding. The Department of Administration will report on the
statewide school facilities inventory that is now underway.
Finally, the subcommittee will examine the Indian education
Education and Local Government Interim
Committee.. .The full ELG Committee will meetFriday, March
4 at 8:30 a.m. Following subcommittee reports, other
agenda items include:
court filing by the Montana Quality Education
antiquated statutes related to local governments;
administrative efficiencies at the school district level
(Montana and other states);
funding adjustments for small, remote, or shrinking
schools undertaken by neighboring states;
taxation and school funding;
As always, there will be opportunity of public
commentduring the meetings. For more information, contact
Casey Barrs, ELG Committee staff, at (406) 444-3957 or
STATE ADMINISTRATION AND VETERANS'
February meeting . ..The State Administration and
Veterans' Affairs Interim Committee met on Feb. 22 to
consider topics that have been on the committee's agenda
this interim: election laws, including mail ballot elections and
the counties' resource needs for conducting elections;
Montana's public employee retirement systems; Montana
military personnel, particularly veterans who have served or
are serving in Afghanistan or Iraq; administrative rules; and
committee administration and budgeting forthe nextinterim.
Coverage of the meeting will appear in the April
issue of the interim newsletter.
Next meeting scheduled for late April . ..The
committee is scheduled to meet next on Monday and
Tuesday, April 28 and 29. Most of the meeting will be
devoted to considering changes to the state's public
employee retirement systems that may be proposed by
stakeholders in the systems.
The committee requests stakeholders to submit
retirement-related proposals by early April (or sooner if
possible) on the form titled "Proposal for Retirement Plan
Legislation" and available on the SAVA web page, under the
"Qther Committee Activities" heading. The Public Employees'
Retirement Board and the Teachers' Retirement Board will
each present its proposed changes to the retirement systems
at the committee's June 30 meeting.
For more information contact Dave Bohyer,
committee staff, at email@example.com or (406) 444-3064, or
Rep. Franke Wilmer, presiding officer, at (406) 599-3619.
Study subcommittees meet for first time . ..Last
December the Revenue and Transportation Interim
Committee created the SJR 31 subcommittee and the HB
488 subcommittee. The subcommittees met for the first time
on Feb. 7. The full committee met the afternoon of Feb. 7
and Feb. 8.
SJR 31 study subcommittee . ..SJR 31 is a study of
the future viability of the use of property taxes to fund K-12
education. The study was requested because of concerns
about changing demographic patterns in Montana,
particularly the aging population and school-aged children,
and disparate school funding property tax burdens faced by
taxpayers across the state.
At its February meeting, the SJR 31 subcommittee
reviewed several background reports. Denise Ulberg gave a
PowerPoint presentation on the basics of school funding. In
fiscal year 2008, school district budgets statewide amounted
to a little over $1 .3 billion. General fund budgets accounted
for about $911 million of that total and retirement $119
million. Ulberg discussed the mechanics of school district
general fund budgeting. She noted that school enrollment
has been declining steadily since the mid 1990s. She also
discussed the school retirement funds, debt service funds,
and transportation funds and the use of nonlevy revenue
(e.g., oil and gas production taxes, coal gross proceeds
taxes, and state reimbursements tied to tax law changes).
Montana State University Economists Myles Watts
and Doug Young of Montana discussed demographic and
socioeconomic trends in Montana. Between 1 940 and 2000,
people 65 years old and older increased from 6 percent of
the state's population to 1 3 percent, while those 1 7 years old
and younger fell from 31 percent to 26 percent. By 2030, the
older group will account for 26 percent of the state's
population and the younger group for 20 percent. These
changes may have a significant effect on school funding, the
demand for health care and other services, and state and
local revenue. Watts and Young also discussed income and
expenditure patterns by age groups. The PowerPoint
presentation is available on the RTIC webpage under the
SJR 31 subcommittee.
Dan Bucks, director of the Department of Revenue,
discussed the prospects of a sales tax given the trend
toward a service economy. Larson Silbaugh, DOR,
described the capabilities of the department's sales tax
HB 488 subcommittee . ..The Departmentof Revenue
will be finishing up this year the reappraisal of agricultural
land, residential and commercial land and improvements,
and forest land. The new values will go into effect in 2009.
Under current law, the department is required to revalue
these types of property every six years. Because the
reappraised value of residential property, and to a lesser
extent commercial property, increased significantly during
the last two reappraisal cycles, the Legislature phased in the
increase in values, reduced property tax rates, and provided
phased-in property tax exemption. The purpose of the HB
488 study is to consider options, if any, the Legislature may
adopt to mitigate increases in reappraised values. The
subcommittee is operating under a slight handicap because
data on new values will not be available until later this year.
Jeff Martin, subcommittee staff, presented a history
of cyclical reappraisal in Montana since the Department took
over reappraisal under the 1972 Constitution. He also
discussed some property tax mitigation strategies that the
subcommittee may consider during the interim. The reports
are available on the RTIC webpage under the HB 488
The Department of Revenue discussed the results
from the 1 997 and 2003 reappraisal cycles and provided an
update on the current cycle. The average change in
residential property values was 44 percent in 1 997 and the
average change in 2003 was 20 percent. The disparity in
average values for counties was much less in 2003 than in
1 997, and the department expects the 2009 disparity to be
lower than 2003. Dan Buck, director or the Department of
Revenue, told the subcommittee that effective reappraisal
mitigation strategies will prevent property taxes from
increasing on a statewide basis.
Miffed overTIFs? ...On Thursday afternoon, the full
committee took up the question of the Department of
Revenue's proposed rules related to tax increment finance
districts. Lee Heiman, staff attorney, told the committee that
the department has rulemaking authority in relation to the
property tax operation of tax increment financing, but not in
the creation or administration of the local government
districts that utilize tax increment financing. Alec Hanson, of
the Montana League of Cities and Towns, discussed the a
background report on tax increment finance districts. Bruce
McCandless, of Billings, and Chris Behan, of Missoula,
discussed boundary changes within a TIF district, and
Colleen Balzarini, of Great Falls, discussed base year
Department of Revenue reports . ..Dan Bucks,
director of the Department of Revenue, reported on the
property tax settlement with PPL Montana for tax years
2003-2007. The Montana Supreme Court had recently
upheld the department's property valuation of the company
for tax years 2000-2002. PPL Montana will pay 94 percent,
or$1 14 million,of assessed property taxes for the eight-year
period. Bucks also discussed tax compliance measures,
property reappraisal, the $400 property tax rebate, and
certain provisions of the most recent economic stimulus
proposal in Congress.
HJR 61 study of federal income tax
conformity . ..Montana generally conforms its individual
income tax and corporation license tax laws to federal
income tax provisions. Lee Heiman, staff attorney, told the
committee that this type of conformity may be an
unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to the
federal government. At the April meeting, the committee will
review two bill drafts to revise how Montana conforms with
federal tax law. The first would provide for a fixed-date
conformity to federal law that could be changed only by
positive legislative action. The second would also provide for
fixed-date conformity but would conform to federal tax law
changes enacted between Montana's legislative sessions.
Anotherpart ofthestudywould look at consolidating
and reorganizing certain common elements of Montana's
individual income tax and corporation license tax laws.
Heiman said that committee staff and the Department of
Revenue will work together on this part of the study. He told
the committee that the reworking of the tax laws would not
involve any policy changes.
Down the road . ..Representatives from Billings and
Missoula talked about meeting the transportation needs of
their cities and concerns about working relationships with
the Montana Department of Transportation. Ed Ulledalen,
Billings council member and deputy mayor expressed
concern about making advanced payments of local match for
transportation projects in Billings. He also said that some
cities are better able than MDT to design and build projects
and should be allowed to do so.
Bruce Bender, chief administrative officer, said
transportation project delays have a significant effect on
Missoula because of rising construction costs.
Jim Lynch, director, MDT, told the committee that
MDT began requiring the advance payment of local match in
response to a legislative audit.
MDT reports . ..Jim Lynch, MDT, reported on ethanol
production tax credits, the status of construction projects on
Highway 2, and an update on highway construction projects
from 2008 to 2012.
Committee to meet in April . ..The Revenue and
Transportation Committee will meet April 17 and 18 in
Helena. The SJR 31 subcommittee and the HB 488
subcommittee will meet April 17. For more information
contact Jeff Martin, committee staff, at (406) 444-3595 or
March 2008 THE INTERIM 12
THE BACK PAGE
WHAT'S YOUR CLIMATE DOING?
By Joe Kolman
Legislative Researcln Analyst
When my dad and I talk on the phone, one of us invariably
asks, "What's your weather doing?"
He's in Harlowton and I'm in Bozeman or Helena so his
weather is often doing something different than mine-
especially since the fresh air is usually blowing hard in Harlo.
Monosyllabic men like us can discuss the weather for hours.
But lots of folks are talking about the weather as it relates to
climate change. The 2007 Legislature debated a number of
climate-related bills. The Environmental Quality Council is
studying climate change this interim and may endorse
legislation. And it is likely the climate will be much discussed
in the 2009 session.
WHAT IS CLIMATE?
Debates about climate change are often complex. And in the
heat of the Legislature, there isn't always time for the basics.
First, it's important to know the difference between climate
and weather. The weather is the short term state of the
atmosphere. One warm day in February is weather. The
climate is the long term average weather-often spanning
several decades-of a region that takes into account typical
weather patterns, the frequency and intensity of storms, cold
spells, and heatwaves.
Climate change is a term that includes any significant
change in measures of climate.
Climate change may result from:
natural factors, such as changes in the sun's
intensity or slow changes in the earth's orbit around
natural processes within the climate system such as
changes in ocean circulation; and
human activities that change the atmosphere's
composition, including the burning of fossil fuels, or
changes to the land surface such as deforestation,
reforestation, urbanization or desertification.^
and is absorbed by the Earth's surface-some of that energy
is then emitted back to the atmosphere as heat. Greenhouse
gases trap that heat, which would otherwise be released into
space, raising the temperature of the atmosphere and,
subsequently, the Earth's surface. This is called the
greenhouse effect. Primary greenhouse gases include:^
Water vapor contributes the most to the greenhouse
effect and occurs in the atmosphere as a result of
the natural cycle of water.
Carbon dioxide also cycles naturally between the
atmosphere and living organisms. Plants and algae
remove CO2 from the atmosphere via
photosynthesis, while all living things release CO2
via respiration (i.e., breathing). Carbon dioxide also
cycles back and forth between water on the Earth's
surface (freshwater and the oceans) and the
atmosphere. In addition to these natural processes,
humans release large quantities of CO2 to the
atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, deforestation,
and other industrial processes.
Methane is a natural byproduct of decomposition,
but significant quantities are also produced by
agriculture and animal husbandry as well as by
fossil fuel production.
Nitrous oxide is released naturally from terrestrial
soils and oceans, but substantial quantities are also
generated from the use of nitrogen fertilizers in
agriculture and through some industrial processes.
A number of other natural and man-made gases
also contribute to the greenhouse effect, including
tropospheric ozone and industrial gases such as
Aerosols are airborne particles within the
atmosphere. Some aerosols, such as sulfate
aerosols and black carbon aerosols are also
produced by fossilfuelcombustion. Sulfate aerosols
tend to reflect incoming solar radiation, cooling the
Earth's surface. Black carbon aerosols absorb,
rather than reflect, solar radiation, which shades the
Earth's surface, but warms the atmosphere.
DON'T WE NEED GREENHOUSE GASSES?
The greenhouse effect is necessary for the planet to be
warm enough to be livable. But there are concerns that an
increasing accumulation of greenhouse gases are causing
an increase in global temperatures.
Greenhouse gases are central to the climate change debate.
Visible light from the sun passes through the atmosphere
During the past century, global surface temperatures have
increased at a rate near 0.1 1 °F per decade. But this trend
Protection Agency, www.epa.gov/climatechange/
Pew Center on Climate Change, www.pewclimate.org/global-warming-
has increased to a rate approximately 0.32 °F per decade
during the past 25 to 30 years. There have been two
sustained periods of warming, one beginning around 1910
and ending around 1945, and the most recent beginning
Since the beginning of this century, each year has ranl^ed
among the 10 warmest years of the observational period
ranging from 1850 to the present.*
Temperatures have been increasing in Montana, too. The
following table shows, for selected cities, the trends in the
annual mean temperatures and total annual snowfall over
the last half century.
50 Year Trends in Mean Annual Temperature and Total Annual
Source: The Montana Climate Office at http://climate.ntsg.umt.edu/
WHAT ARE THE CONTROVERSIES ABOUT CLIMATE
Debates about climate change are scientific, economic,
political, and rife with complexities. That said, major points of
contention include what degree are human-produced
greenhouse gases affecting the climate and what are those
A 2001 report prepared by the National Academy of
Sciences at the request of President George W. Bush
concluded, "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's
atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface
air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise.
Temperatures are, in fact, rising. The changes observed
over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human
activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of
these changes is also a reflection of natural variability." *
National Climatic Data Center, 2006,
World Meteorological Association, 2006.
Citing the report, the president called for a reduction in the
production of greenhouse gases. ^
Today, statements about human produced greenhouse
gases affecting the climate are even stronger than those
issued by the National Academy of Sciences in 2001 . This
statement on the EPA website is reflective of others:
"Scientists know with virtual certainty that:
Human activities are changing the composition of
Earth's atmosphere. Increasing levels of greenhouse
gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere
since pre-industrial times are well-documented and
The atmospheric buildup of CO2 and other
greenhouse gases is largely the result of human
activities such as the burning of fossil fuels.
The major greenhouse gases emitted by human
activities remain in the atmosphere for periods
ranging from decades to centuries. It is therefore
virtually certain that atmospheric concentrations of
greenhouse gases will continue to rise over the next
Increasing greenhouse gas concentrations tend to
warm the planet."
A working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change recently concluded, "Most of the observed increase
in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century
is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic
greenhouse gas concentrations.'
"Discernible human influences now extend to other aspects
of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average
temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns." '
However, conclusions about climate change are not
Presidential statement, 2001 . www.climatevision.gov/statements.html
The World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations
Environment Programme established the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. Its role is to assess on a comprehensive,
objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-
economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk
of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for
adaptation and mitigation. The IPCC does not carry out research nor does
it monitor climate related data or other relevant parameters. It bases its
assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific/technical
Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Ouestions (2001)
IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: The
Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth
Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Richard S. Lindzen, a meteorology professor at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was a member of the
panel that wrote the 2001 National Academy of Sciences
report. At the time, he wrote that the summary passage
quoted above was a "zinger" that overshadowed the report's
caveats, mainly, according to Lindzen, "Our primary
conclusion was that despite some knowledge and
agreement, the science is by no means settled."^
At a 2005 conference on climate change at Yale University,
Lindzen said there is basic agreement on three points:'"
The global mean surface temperature is always
changing. It has increased and decreased over the
last 60 years. Over the last century, it has increased,
meaning there has been some global warming.
The validity of the models used in the IPCC working group
report cited above also are criticized by the George C.
Marshall Institute. "The models have systematic flaws, the
input data is unreliable prior to 1 970 at the earliest, and the
historical record of climate is incomplete and flawed."'^
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS?
Possible effects of climate change, according to an IPCC
working group, include:'^
Less water available in mid and semi-arid low
More species at risk for extinction and increased
risks for wildfire.
A decrease in cereal productivity at low latitudes, an
increase in higher latitudes.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and its increase
should contribute to warming. It is increasing, and a
doubling would increase the greenhouse effect
(mainly due to water vapor and clouds) by about 2
Increased damage from floods and storms.
A change in disease vectors, an increase in mortality
due to heat waves, floods, and droughts, and other
There is good evidence that humans are responsible
for the recent increase in CO2, though climate itself
(as well as other natural phenomena) can also
cause changes in CO2.
However, Lindzen contends that models used by the IPCC
fail to correctly take into account the effect of water vapor
and clouds. "Even if we attribute all warming over the past
century to man made greenhouse gases (which we have no
basis for doing), the observed warming is only about one-
third to one-sixth of what models project," Lindzen said.
For North America, the report said:'*
Warming in western mountains is projected to cause
decreased snowpack, more winter flooding, and
reduced summer flows, increased competition for
over-allocated water resources.
Disturbances from pests, diseases, and fire are
projected to have increasing impacts on forests, with
an extended period of high fire risk and large
increases in area burned.
"At this point, it is doubtful that we are even dealing with a
serious problem. If this is correct, then there is no policy
addressing this non-problem that would be cost-effective,"
Lindzen said. "Even if we believe the problem to be serious,
we have already reached the levels of climate forcing that
have been claimed to be serious.""
Wall street Journal, 2001. http://eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen/OpEds/
Working Group (WG) I Contribution to the IPCC's Fourth Assessment
Report (AR4): A Critique, 2007. www.marshall.org/pdf/materials/51 5.pdf. The
Marshall Institute, established in 1 984 as a nonprofit corporation, conducts
technical assessments of scientific issues with an impact on public policy.
This is intended to be a critical examination of the scientific basis for global
climate change policy.
Global Warming: Looking Beyond Kyoto, Yale, 2005.
Working Group II Contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change Fourth Assessment Report, 2007. www.ipcc.ch/SPM13apr07.pdf
Moderate climate change in the early decades of the
century is projected to increase aggregate yields of
rain-fed agriculture by 5 percent to 20 percent, but
with important variability among regions. Major
challenges are projected for crops that are near the
warm end of their suitable range or depend on
highly utilized water resources.
Cities that currently experience heat waves are
expected to be further challenged by an increased
number, intensity and duration of heatwaves during
the course of the century, with potential for adverse
health impacts. Elderly populations are most at risk.
Coastal communities and habitats will be
increasingly stressed by climate change impacts
interacting with development and pollution.
Population growth and the rising value of
infrastructure in coastal areas increase vulnerability
to climate variability and future climate change, with
losses projected to increase if the intensity of
tropical storms increases. Current adaptation is
uneven and readiness for increased exposure is
The Marshall Institute criticized the report for its modeling
and use of worst-case scenarios that assumed nothing
would be done to curb greenhouse gasses.^^
"This is an unrealistic assumption since a variety of actions
are currently being taken to control greenhouse gas
emissions, some voluntary, some mandatory, and those in
the future will be shaped by new knowledge," the critique
WHO IS DEALING WITH CLIMATE ISSUES?
Various public and private organizations at the national,
regional, state, and local levels are taking on climate change.
The national climate change policy has three main goals:'*
slowing the growth of emissions;
strengthening science, technology, and institutions;
enhancing international cooperation.
In 2002, the United States pledged to reduce the
greenhouse gas intensity of the American economy by 18
percent over the 10-year period from 2002 to 2012.
Voluntary, public-private programs focus on energy
efficiency, renewable energy, methane and other non-carbon
dioxide gases, agricultural practices and implementation of
technologies to achieve greenhouse gas reductions."
Greenhouse gas emissions aren't restricted by the federal
government; however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled thatthe
Environmental Protection Agency has failed to use its
authority to regulate carbon in automobile exhaust as a
pollutant. In the absence of federal laws on the subject of
greenhouse gas emissions, states are forming individual and
regional tracking and reductions programs.
Montana is a member of the Western Regional Climate
Action Initiative that also includes Arizona, California, New
Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. The Canadian
provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba also joined.
States will identify, evaluate, and implement ways to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. The initiative requires an overall
regional goal to reduce emissions. A market-based,
multisector mechanism must be developed to achieve that
reduction. Members also will participate in a greenhouse gas
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) includes
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire,
New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. Starting in 2009,
carbon emissions from power plants in those states will be
capped at current levels-about 121 million metric tons
annually. The cap remains until 2015 when the states then
incrementally reduce emissions by 10 percent by 2019. It
establishes the first cap-and-trade program for carbon
dioxide. It is the first mandatory cap-and-trade program for
emissions in the U.S.'*
Thirty-one states, including Montana, are part of the Climate
Registry, a national initiative to track greenhouse gas
emissions. The registry, a nonprofitorganization, will be used
to track, measure, verify, and publicly report greenhouse
gases. The registry will accept data starting in
January 2008. State agencies, corporations, and educational
institutions will be invited to report emissions under the
voluntary program. Some states also have specific sources
and facilities that are required to report under regulatory
programs. In Montana, facilities are not required to report
carbon emissions, but the Montana Climate Change
Advisory Committee reached agreement on a
recommendation that a mandatory reporting program be
The Marshall Institute, 2007. Evaluating Working Group (WG) ll's
Contribution to the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (AR4)
Model Rule and Amended Memorandum of Understanding, Regional
Thirty states, including IVIontana, Inave completed or are
working on climate action plans. ^^ In 2006, the Western
Governor's Association stated their support for local, state,
regional, and national programs that would "reduce
anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in a manner that
is consistent with scientific research and will not significantly
harm the U.S. economy."^"
In the private sector, members of the American Petroleum
Institute formed a climate challenge program to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. Companies are using
cogeneration, also known as combined heat and power
technology, to turn waste heat into energy and have been
working around the world to reduce natural gas flaring,
another source of greenhouse gas emissions. Companies
also are researching alternative fuels and other
WHAT ABOUT IN MONTANA?
Gov. Brian Schweitzer in 2005 asked Montana's Department
of Environmental Quality to form a Climate Change Advisory
Committee to study the impact of climate change in
The Montana Climate Change Advisory Committee had 18
members representing industry, environment, local and tribal
governments, transportation, and agriculture. The DEQ
contracted with the Center for Climate Strategies to develop
a comprehensive inventory and forecast of greenhouse gas
emissions in Montana from 1990 to 2020 as well as to
develop policy options for reducing greenhouse emissions.
The Center for Climate Strategies is a nonprofit organization
that works with groups like the MCCAC to design and
implement policies for climate mitigation. The organization
has teamed with 1 5 other states to develop greenhouse gas
The Environmental Quality Council decided to spend a large
portion of this interim examining and debating the MCCAC
The mayors of Billings, Bozeman, and Missoula signed on to
the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, in which
mayors commit to reduce emissions in their cities to 7
percent below 1 990 levels by 201 2."
The Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Project, led by Montana
State University, is one of the U.S. Department of Energy's
seven regional partnerships. Researchers are developing a
framework to deal with carbon dioxide emissions and are
working with stakeholders to create a "vision for a new,
sustainable energy future.""
The National Carbon Qffset Coalition, Inc." is made up of
seven Montana nonprofit corporations. Itallows landowners,
corporations, tribes, and state and local governments to
participate in a market-based conservation program. The
program is geared at reducing the impacts of greenhouse
gases and explores the concept of transferring carbon
sequestration units as a new commodity."
Climate Change: Action by States to Address Greenhouse Gas
Emissions, by Jonathan
Ramseur, Congressional Research Service, January 2007, page 6.
Sonja Nowakowski, legislative research analyst, contributed information
to this section.
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